This is the second post in a series What Story Teaches Us. In the first post I talked about how we learn to see. In this post I expand on the idea of seeing, where we learn to behold.
They stomp on short and shorter limbs in a row of nativity. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six of seven nieces. We drape the scarves in robes and wrap in silky strands over hair for the regal flair of the girls who We Three Kings From Orient Are. We gaze towards the center of our living O Little Town of Bethlehem and a baby doll who acts the part of Jesus. Our Mary has a tender hold on Immanuel. And we all feel the pulsing beat of a God who is indeed with us.
There are no rehearsals. Simply the desire to wrap it all special. We line the beige of walls in a rehabilitation center’s community room. It’s mama’s temporary home as she undergoes radiation, learns to write with her left hand and walk again. Rods and pins replace bones eaten by cancer in her right arm and hip. There is no medical prognosis that extends her life past months. Miracles are real and the Babe in a Manger, high and holy, meek and lowly, beckons us to behold. It is the hope born of a night long ago and how we now trust the fullness that came from this one frail infant boy. This is what keeps us and mama tight and secure, beyond a stretching of days into next Advent.
This is the Christmas when Noel becomes altogether new. I am 27 and love to give, but still delight in receiving. Yet, what gift, in all the world, can fill our hearts split wide in the gaping cavern of grief?
It is only His life slipping out messy on the waft of manure. The beholding of promise fulfilled through millennia and culture and countless places of the tragedy of a world gone wrong. In all times and places ‘the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Him tonight.’ For, it is the night of our waning hope and the full day of our rising fear in the coming absence of this family’s living, breathing heart that meets us in the dark hollowed of this year.
And here is where story teaches us to behold beyond the times and circumstances of these days. This Christmas. Remembering, searching the path of all gone before is our only true hunt for the strength to keep living into next Christmas and all that will come after.
Behold the broken Beauty & messy Majesty all the more hope-filled for the weight of time. He is our Dawn. #theGreatestGiftWe behold the holy night where ‘yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.’ And mama’s story and ours shows the messy surroundings where the new day strains to be born. We remember her exhaustion of too much preparation to make it all special. We see her snipping at papa for the crooked tree he hasn’t, yet, in all the many Christmases learned to put straight. There’s the dollar store presents that sparkle of love, but we wish mama knew she didn’t have to run weary to get us things. There’s the Eve of Christmas when the pipes freeze on the farm and we run wild with extension cords and hair dryers to thaw.
— Abigail Alleman (@abbyalleman) December 17, 2014
It’s always been a broken beauty, a messy majesty, ringing around thin-paper wrapping of presents and a crooked tree. It’s how together and home really are in the true beholding that comes with story. And though the pain is profound, this Christmas is not one solitary eclipse of the twinkling bright stringing year to year. More Christmases with mama is not that ‘yonder breaking’. Our story reveals it is our journey, as Advent rounds to Advent, to behold more of the broken Beauty, and messy Majesty all the more hope-filled for the weight of time. He is our Dawn.
Story teaches us, especially at Christmas-time, there is ever the greater, better, before our waiting, wandering eyes. All our yearning strains in humble chords of love and loss for the Story of the Babe in a Manger. It is only here we find an unyielding resilience, where all of the world’s and our years’ of hopes and fears forever meet…tonight.
Sharing with Laura , Jen, and JenniferMay your story, in all its broken beauty, lead you through the dark places and to beholding of Majesty born into the Mess of wafting manure and rough-hewn feed trough. May hope heal and faith overcome fear. This is the prayer I pray for you, friend, out of the gift of Immanuel as I, too, struggle to prepare Him room.